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Croatia fight back to down Argentina 3-2

Written by: Staff
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BASEL, Switzerland, Mar 2 (Reuters) Croatia fought back from a goal down to upset fellow World Cup contenders Argentina 3-2 here as the two sides got in some early shooting practice for the tournament in Germany.

Despite freezing conditions in Switzerland's St Jakob stadium yesterday, the teams got off to a fiery start with three of the night's five goals coming in the opening six minutes.

Croatia struck first when striker Ivan Klasnic took advantage of a third-minute mix-up in the Argentine defence.

Coming out to deal with a cross from Niko Kranjcar, goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri instead managed to tangle with the feet of team mate Nicolas Burdisso -- allowing Klasnic to rifle the loose ball into an empty net.

Croatia had little time to celebrate, however, with Argentina equalising and then taking the lead all within the following three minutes.

MESSI MOMENTS Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was at the heart of both goals -- setting up Carlos Tevez for the first before grabbing the second for himself.

Already billed as one of the men to watch at this World Cup, which starts on June 9, the 18-year-old played a neat one-two with Juan Roman Riquelme on the right before firing in a shot for Tevez to poke across the line at the far post.

The ball looked as if it might even have gone in without the striker's intervention, but Messi did not have to wait long for his first international goal.

Pouncing on a poor back pass from Croatian defender Stjepan Tomas, the teenager curled an unstoppable left-footed strike past goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa to apparently hand control back to the South Americans.

Argentina certainly looked likeliest to score again as Messi, Riquelme, Tevez and Hernan Crespo, captaining Argentina for the first time in the absence of Juan Pablo Sorin, spent the remainder of the half probing gaps in the Croatian defence.

But their failure to score again proved costly in the second half when Zlatko Kranjcar's men turned things around.

With 52 minutes gone, midfielder Darijo Srna put Croatia back on level terms -- heading in a perfectly-weighted left cross from striker Dado Prso.

It seemed as if that would be enough to give the Croats a noteworthy draw against the two-time world champions but as the match went into injury time, defender Dario Simic latched onto a corner to head home an unlikely winner.

REUTERS DH RAI0446

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